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What’s the best Super Mario game ever? His 10 greatest adventures and where you can play them today

One of the most famous characters in gaming, Nintendo’s mustachioed mascot has been in hundreds of titles over the last 35 years. But which of his ‘core’ games are the best and what if you want to play them right now? Read on...

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 December, 2017, 8:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 December, 2017, 10:26am

A mustachioed Italian plumber with a penchant for jumping on the heads of his enemies is, unbelievably, one of the most popular video game characters in the world. Hell, he’s one of the most popular characters in the world period. Of course, I’m talking about your friend and mine: Super Mario.

It has been more than 35 years since Mario first appeared in 1981 arcade classic Donkey Kong and, since then, he has been in a lot of games (the Mario Wiki estimates over 200). These range from classics like Super Mario World on the Super Nintendo to more esoteric fare such as Hotel Mario and Mario’s Time Machine. And now he’s even on Apple’s iPhone and iPad.

Perhaps you have young kids at home who are quickly falling in love with the new Super Mario Odyssey? Or maybe you are?

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There’s obviously a ton of Mario history to dig through – and that’s where this list comes in. We’ve put together the 10 best Mario games ever made and where to find them (excluding spin-offs series such as Mario Tennis, Mario Kart, Mario Party and Paper Mario). Let’s begin.

10. Super Mario Bros. 2

It may seem like an unlikely place to start, given that it’s not a “real” Mario game, but Super Mario Bros. 2 is fantastic. Notoriously, it is a rebranded, slightly altered version of a game that already existed at the time: Doki Doki Panic. Whatever – Super Mario Bros. 2 is an excellent Mario game.

It was the first to allow you to play as Mario, Luigi, Toad or the Princess. Each of them has their own special attributes. Princess can float mid-jump for a moment or two. Luigi has a slightly higher jump than anyone else. More importantly, it’s a surrealist adventure full of crazy landscapes, crazier enemies and a bird that shoots eggs out of its mouth. It may not be the first Mario game you should start with, but it’s one that you absolutely should not miss.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console. It’s also one of the 30 games on the NES Classic Edition console.

9. Super Mario Land

The first mobile Super Mario game came in the form of Super Mario Land on the Game Boy, an excellent stand-alone Mario game that took the concept of the original NES game and created something entirely new. It’s still a standard “platformer” game – you start on the left side of a level and traverse it by moving to the right, killing enemies and avoiding your own death along the way – but Super Mario Land is full of delightful additions, like an underwater vehicle you get to pilot. It’s a bizarre, thrilling Mario game that, admittedly, had an especially powerful impact on my very young brain when it was first released back in 1989.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console.

8. Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World, simply put, is the best Mario game that has been made in the past five years (before Odyssey, that is). It’s gorgeous, fresh and perfectly designed. Like the best Super Mario games of the modern era, it seamlessly blends nostalgia-laced gameplay with fresh twists.

As a nod to Super Mario Bros. 2, players can choose to play as Mario, Luigi, Peach or Toad – each has the same special ability that they had in the original NES game. Super Mario 3D World also borrows the concept of the overworld map from Super Mario World (the SNES game) and evolves it to its next logical step: as an explorable world unto itself, full of secrets.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Wii U, both digitally on the Nintendo eShop and in stores on disc.

7. Super Mario Galaxy 2

Super Mario Galaxy 2 was, for many years, the pinnacle of 3D Super Mario games. It takes the space theme from the first Galaxy game and doubles down, allowing for a new take on the way that traditional Super Mario levels are structured. It’s unafraid to introduce a drastically new game mechanic for a single level, which gives the game a handmade feeling.

In many ways, Galaxy 2 is a master work in 3D platforming – a testament to Nintendo’s game-design expertise. It’s the chef’s tasting menu (perhaps omakase is more appropriate here?) of Super Mario games, where individual, carefully crafted moments are doled out along a smartly timed schedule.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Wii U, both digitally and in stores on discs for the Wii (which will work on the Wii U).

6. New Super Mario Bros.

What the Galaxy series of Super Mario games did for 3D, the New series does for 2D. When it arrived on the Nintendo DS in 2006, New Super Mario Bros. was a breath of fresh air for the series. It updated the graphics, offered a mess of new mechanics and evolved the 2D side of the Super Mario series in ways it hadn’t seen in years with a crazy multiplayer mode.

Like the core design theme of Super Mario games, the series has gradually built upon itself over the years. New Super Mario Bros. added wall jumping, for instance, which has since become standard in Mario’s repertoire. More recent entries in the series added co-op play as well, which is a direct nod to the multiplayer first introduced in this classic. As a bonus, it features some of the best level design in any Super Mario game.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Wii U Virtual Console (and physically available for the DS/2DS/3DS).

5. Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 is, at this point, hard to speak about in the same way we speak about other games. It’s a sacred cow of the video game oeuvre, and deservedly so. Super Mario 64 set standard after standard in the mid-’90s, and it endeared an entire generation to Super Mario.

It was beautiful, it was fun, it was like nothing my 11-year-old eyes had seen before. It is, unbelievably, nearly 20 years later, still all of those things. It trained an entire generation how to use the analogue stick on a game pad. It literally taught an entry-level standard in game vernacular: how to use an analogue stick to control a 3D character. That’s huge.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Wii U and 3DS Virtual Console. You could also buy the DS version (Super Mario 64 DS) and play it on a DS/2DS/3DS.

4. Super Mario Odyssey

Super Mario Odyssey is a glorious combination of homage and evolution, nodding heartily at Nintendo’s long history of excellent Super Mario games while looking forward in scope and gameplay.

In Odyssey, which is the newest game on this list, Mario uses his hat to take over various objects and enemies. In practice, this means playing as a few dozen different things – from a smiling fireball with Mario’s signature moustache and wide eyes to a massive T-rex. More than anything else, it’s the massive scope of Odyssey that sets it apart from the rest of this list. It’s a massive, joyous game that provides reason enough to buy Nintendo’s latest game console, the Switch.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Nintendo Switch eShop and at retail stores.

3. Super Mario Bros. 3

When Super Mario Bros. 3 arrived in 1990, it defied near-universal expectations about what was possible on the original Nintendo console. It had a large, gorgeous map that was in perpetual movement. The levels were full of gorgeous contrasting colours which seemingly popped off the screen. It’s important to note that this was in an era where arcades were still a relatively normal thing, and where most games had three or four colours at most.

Super Mario Bros. 3 set the precedent for how the entire series has been handled since. It took the previous games and added carefully while walking back some previous additions. Gone was the character selection and bizarre themes of Super Mario Bros. 2. Instead, there were multiple worlds to explore with vastly different themes, new power-ups to collect with crazy effects, and a magical flute that could skip around this massive new world.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console. It’s also one of the 30 games on the NES Classic console.

2. Super Mario Bros.

None of the standards that were set by the dozens of Super Mario games could have been set without the original Super Mario Bros. It’s been explained many times over by creator Shigeru Miyamoto: the game’s design is brilliantly centred on teaching base-level skills, and then building on those skills.

It is this design philosophy that has inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of games over the years, created by people all over the world. This is to say nothing of the game of course, which is excellent. It offers a feeling of precision that was unheard of at the time. If you missed a jump with little Mario, it was on you – a major change from the challenge offered by many arcade games at the time.

Super Mario Bros. set a new paradigm in terms of challenge, intent, design philosophy and player expectation. It’s a game that birthed several of the world’s most recognisable characters, that inspired generations of game developers and that helped restart an ailing industry.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console. It’s also one of the 30 games on the NES Classic console.

1. Super Mario World

You knew this would be No 1, right? Super Mario World is still, to this day, the very best Super Mario game ever made.

That statement includes all the 3D games, the spin-off series and whatever other game you want to dig up with the plumber. Super Mario World is the series’ first open-world game (of sorts) and it is absolutely gigantic. Never before was the scale of a Super Mario game quite so expansive, full of secrets, off-path ghost houses and top-secret levels full of bonus power-ups.

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Super Mario World is the quintessential Mario game, perfecting the character’s movement and defining many new standards in the series (from the addition of Yoshi to the concept of a ghost house and its many exits). It showcased the power of the Super Nintendo, a games console still steeped in deep reverie by millions, and was the first truly epic-feeling adventure for Mario.

Where can I play it? It’s available on the Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Virtual Console, and is one of the 21 games on the Super NES Classic Edition console.

Read the original article at Business Insider